Me: Hello and welcome to interview with an author. Today, we are interviewing the amazing and talented Naomi Charles, the author of our January Book Box 'Focus'.
Naomi: Hi, everyone. My name is Naomi Charles and I am the author of the book Focus.
Me: What inspired you to write your book?
Naomi: So 'Focus' actually started off as a screenplay when I was in college, in undergrad, and I was taking a film minor. So I had an assignment for one of my screenplay classes, and the prompt was to write about two people who are exes who finally come across each other after two years of not seeing each other. I didn't want to write just like, you know, a typical 'Aw I felt butterflies, I'm so in love with them', which is definitely part of it, but I also included the aspect of murder, which made everybody a lot more nervous. I remember submitting it, it just being maybe fifteen pages long, and my professor emailed me saying, like, you need to expand upon this I absolutely loved it. From there, I started working on 'Focus' as a book. I always knew that I wanted to write books and I just thought, you know, let me just start from here, so I adapted it back into a novel form and the rest is history.
Me: When did you realize you wanted to be a writer?
Naomi: For a very long time. I think I knew I wanted to write books since elementary school, and I'm going to say maybe around like eight or nine. I used to tell my mom that I would write books one day and I guess I was right.
Me: How long did it take to write your book?
Naomi: Okay, so I started 'Focus' it started as a screenplay in 2018 and then it was actually ready early summer of 2020 right before I actually went out to get published with Amazon. So I will say, you know, I definitely stopped in between stuff like that, but I'll say for that book a year and a half.
Me: What has been your experience as an indie author?
Naomi: I love it. I love that I have almost complete autonomy over how every aspect of my book goes. You know, there's no, you know, higher ups telling me 'You need your cover to look like this, you need to write stuff like this' for sure, but it's also very difficult. Like all that responsibility is also on you. It's all up to you. You have nobody to help you make those decisions. So it's good because you get to make those decisions but it's also bad because you get to make those decisions, especially if you're busy. I mean, right now, you know, I'm in school, I'm a graduate student and making all these decisions and, you know, having to figure all these things out is definitely difficult. So I would say that it's great, but it's also very challenging.
Me: Why publish indie rather than traditional?
Naomi: I originally wanted to publish focus traditionally, but it definitely wasn't as welcomed as I thought it was going to be. I knew I loved the story. I believed in it 100%, but I was told by a few people who looked it over and people who I queried with, they were like, 'Yeah, I don't know how believable it is.' Things like, 'Yeah, but she's like rich, like what's her struggle?' You know, that's a whole other thing. Not to make this very political, but like, you know, black people's struggles aren't only about being in poverty and being on food stamps and living in the projects. That's not Nicole's story, and if you've read 'Focus', you definitely know that, and that's okay! She had a different type of struggle, and not every black person is going to be able to relate to a story that's, you know, talking about a real struggle situation like that. I know I wouldn't be able to, so I believed in it, and I thought, you know what? I'm going to get the story out here somewhere, somehow, and I'm going to do it independently.
Me: Have you written more are you planning to write more?
Naomi: Absolutely. Book two, which is actually a sequel to 'Focus', 'Chill', is actually written and will be coming out this summer, so I'm very excited about that. There will definitely be more information on that in the near future. I'm actually also working on the third book in the series, so yes, I'm absolutely writing more.
Me: What do you want people to know about your book or writing?
Naomi: I definitely want people to know more about, you know, the writing process, what it takes to write a book, you know, imposter syndrome. Let's talk about that. Okay, so imposter syndrome is when you feel this feeling of not belonging or that you don't believe the praise that you're receiving, which is definitely something that I felt when I first started going about this. People were like, wow, I really like your book and stuff like that. You know, I had articles being written about me. People were posting about 'Focus' everywhere, and I was just like, wow, this is a lot. I didn't feel like I was deserving of all this praise, even though I had worked so hard, I'd work tirelessly on this, making sure she was ready for the world even while being in school, and that's something to celebrate. I did deserve the praise, but I didn't feel like it. So, you know, helping people work through imposter syndrome and inspiring people to put their work out there. Your story could literally inspire somebody and change their lives. You don't know that. There's so many books that you could probably think of at the top of your head right now that really changed your life at the time that you read it, right? That could be your story for someone else. So, you know, what I want people to know more about is just being confident in themselves and really putting themselves out there because you never know what can happen and your art is valid.
Me: If you could spend the day with an author, who would it be?
Naomi: Okay, so I'm going to have to pick John Green. I discovered John Green when I was 12 years old, when I was watching Vlog Brothers and all of that, and I decided to start looking at his books and I was completely enthralled by all of it. It was amazing, and I just remember thinking, 'I want somebody to feel this way about something that I wrote one day.' There was just some pieces that he wrote that are just so deep, like 'Looking for Alaska' and 'Paper Towns' and 'The Fault in Our Stars' that I just want to pick his brain and just talk to him. I feel like he'd be super interesting. He likes to travel. He goes different places for his inspiration, and one day I would love to meet with him and just pick his brain.
Me: Is there anything you want to add?
Naomi: Definitely read 'Focus' if you haven't already and get started now because the series is blossoming, book two will be out later this year and book three will be out next year. So, guys, definitely get up to date now. Definitely check out Project Indie. I love everything that Abigail is doing. I think it's an absolutely awesome company and I'm so glad that she wants me to be part of it. I'm honored and definitely stay safe out there.
Comments: You can get your copy of 'Focus' on Amazon Now or follow Naomi Charles on Instagram @Naomi_charles. Make sure to follow Project Indie on Instagram @Project.Indie or shop the next book box at porjectindiebookbox.com. Stay tuned for our next podcast and author interview!